Once a lone voice in the wilderness extolling the virtues of Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) technology, Sonic Software now finds itself with lots of company. The idea of ESBs is to offer a standards-based integration platform that brings together service-oriented architectures (SOAs), messaging, Web services, and XML with a distributed deployment model. Perhaps the most vocal evangelist for this technology has been Gordon Van Huizen, Sonic's CTO, who has played a central role in developing his company's flagship product. Van Huizen recently spoke with InfoWorld Editor At Large Ed Scannell about the still evolving competitive nature of the ESB market and where his company's technology fits in between the offerings of IBM and Microsoft's still off-in-the-distance Indigo technology, which will be stitched into Longhorn.
InfoWorld: As a company heavily invested in Enterprise Service Bus technology, how do you view Microsoft's upcoming Indigo technology?
Van Huizen: We find Indigo really fascinating from an SOA [Service Oriented Architectures] perspective. With enterprise SOAs there are two main aspects to consider. There is the notion of an application as an end point and how should it be thought of within an SOA in terms of what sort of interface should it have and how should it behave. Then there is the infrastructure for tying together a bunch of applications. [They] tend to be fairly distinct areas of endeavor. Historically, the application-centric vendors like Microsoft and BEA have a programmer-first view of SOAs. Instead of changing the interaction model or interface model to something that would be optimal for connecting a lot of systems together, they just kept the traditional client/server model in place and made that Web services oriented. So we anticipate Microsoft continuing on that path. But Indigo actually represents a really fundamental shift in terms of what the interface style should look like. But it really is nothing more than a communications sub-system.
InfoWorld: Isn't Microsoft focusing a lot of attention on various collaboration and communication improvements with Longhorn?
Van Huizen: Exactly. I think they have correctly identified that the way you carry out these things really matters. This has significant architectural implications. Instead of the same old same old client/server-based RPC Web services model, with Indigo they are moving to an event-driven, message-driven, loosely coupled services-oriented model, which we think is vastly superior. We think it is really a key to architectural flexibility.
InfoWorld: Doesn't Microsoft bundling this capability into the operating system worry you?
Van Huizen: You have to be careful not to view Indigo as anything more than what it is. It does represent an important architectural shift in how you think about a Web service. But it doesn't really bundle in capabilities you would normally associate with messaging brokers and middleware.
InfoWorld: You don't see your ESB and Indigo as competing development platforms?